Demand for locum GPs rising as practices struggle to recruit

More than half of locum GPs say demand for their services has risen in the past 12 months, survey data show.

Locum GPs: demand rising (Photo: JH Lancy)

A survey by GP’s sister website found that 53% of locums said demand for their services had increased in that period, while a further 38% said it had stayed the same. Just 9% said demand had dipped.

Demand for locum GPs rose despite the fact that 63% said they were aware of practices in their area actively trying to cut costs by using locums less.

One in five locum GPs (21%) responding to the survey said they had increased their fees in the past 12 months, with a further 73% reporting their fees were unchanged.

Workforce crisis

The findings suggest the GP workforce crisis has left practices desperate to make economies with little choice but to continue using locums.

A GP magazine investigation earlier this year found that a third of practices had at least one GP vacancy, and one in six of these had been unable to fill a post for more than a year (GP, 21 July 2014).

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the survey ‘suggests that even though practices have seen their resources cut they are continuing to put patients first and taking on locums to help to meet growing patient demand for appointments’.

He added: ‘It's also a reflection of the growing problems with recruitment and retention as practices struggle to replace GPs who have left and therefore they need to use more locums to fill the gap.’

More than 670 locum GPs responded to the poll, with some reporting concerns over pension payments and expectations placed on them.

Locum pay concerns

One locum wrote: ‘Although I am booked for a half-day surgery and paid an hourly rate, this never takes into account the full extent of the work involved so I invariably run over and am not paid for the extra time.

‘This is also the experience of other locums I meet. There is a general anxiety among locums that if they question this they will not get more work. This is also the reason why many locums have not put up their rates.’

Another locum said: ‘The introduction of practices having to pay the pension contribution directly has significantly impacted on perception of locum costs.’

Locum rates: regional rates for locum GPs from

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

BMA Scotland GP committee chair Dr Andrew Buist

'Disappointing' uplift falls short of 6% pay rise promised to GPs in Scotland

A 'disappointing' uplift to contract funding worth £60.4m in 2023/24 will not deliver...

Person selecting medicine in a dispensary

Dispensing GPs demand funding overhaul to ensure services remain viable

Dispensing doctors have demanded improved representation in GP contract negotiations,...

GP consultation room

GPs seeing cases of malnutrition and rickets as cost-of-living crisis hits patient health

Three quarters of GPs are seeing a rise in patients with problems linked to the cost-of-living...

Female GP listening to a patient

What GPs need to know about changes to Good Medical Practice

Dr Udvitha Nandasoma, the MDU’s head of advisory services, explains what GPs need...

Dr Caroline Fryar

Viewpoint: Doctors should be given protected time to digest Good Medical Practice

There's a lot for doctors to digest in the GMC's Good Medical Practice update before...

MIMS Learning Clinical Update podcast

MIMS Learning Clinical Update podcast explores the ‘defining issue of our age’

The latest episode of the MIMS Learning Clinical Update podcast features an interview...